TV Evolving Rapidly With ‘Game Changing’ Tech: Comcast CEO
Comcast's new cable operating system, voice controlled remotes and increasingly robust user interaction will be 'game changers' for the television industry, said Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts. He spoke with CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" Tuesday from the NCTA "The Cable Show" in Washington, DC.
"It starts with our goal which is to take all of the intelligence out of the cable box and put it in the cloud. That allows us to innovate faster," he said. "It's smarter, it's personalized, it's easy, it's fun and it's beautiful... at the same time, it gets you to your content faster, it learns about your behaviors and your preferences."
Roberts said some of the features he's most excited about are the ability to use voice prompts to operate the remote control, increased search features as well as accessing web content such as YouTube. "We want your entertainment experience to get you to your content faster. Web videos are coming on strong and people want them on bigger devices. We want to make that as seamless and easy as possible."
The new interactive features on Comcast's remote control system have created buzz at the NCTA conference and Roberts expects much more progress in this area. Customers can expect a range of new features, although the future is not completely certain, he said. The company has been experimenting with "everything from gesture, to voice to keystroke," and Comcast remains open-minded to finding partners to evolve the experience.
"It's the beginning of a game-changer. We've been working on it for many years and we're excited," he said.
Another game-changer is dynamic ad insertion, he said, where advertisers can target relevant ads during on-demand, non-live programming.
Roberts said that broadband is the fastest growing part of Comcast's business, adding that the potential for high speed Internet is almost limitless. He said that the company is looking at applications such as home energy management, home health care and security for integration into Comcast's cable and broadband ecosystem.
The trend in entertainment will be a range of choices for consumers, including a range of on-demand selections, TV everywhere, increased broadband speeds as a result of "a technological explosion that is happening for every consumer."
Higher speeds demanded by consumers will be available without having to make significant investments in infrastructure and "the more consumers want speed, the better it will be for our company," he said. Compared to Google's high speed network, Google Fiber, Roberts welcomed competition and the greater visibility given to ultra-fast Internet services.
Roberts also said that significant investments have been made for customer service, an area where the company is putting several billion dollars to work in order to increase satisfaction and engagement from consumers. There will be a "whole other level of service innovation," he said.
"My goal is not to always know what every consumer wants but to make sure our company moves quickly, has the best platform, and is open-minded to the change that is part of our daily lives," he explained.
Roberts also predicts that the ultra-high definition format called "4K" is "coming on strong," with lower cost devices and broader applicability. 4K offers viewers four times the resolution of 1080p, the highest definition widely available for consumers today.
On the controversial internet rebroadcasting company Aereo, Roberts said the company had "a lot of legal challenges" and that "it is not a legal system. It will be challenged in court and we'll see how that plays out."
On purchasing NBC Universal, Roberts said the company has "a lot of momentum" across the board, from theme parks to cable television and the movie business.
Earlier on Tuesday, Roberts, speaking at NCTA, said that the future of television will be more interactive, more personalized and work on every device, offering consumers "everything you want, anytime you want it, on any device."
Roberts also revealed the new entertainment operating system for cable subscribers, X2i, which is expected to be released in late fall 2013. The system will allow for increased customization for their guide, including personal recommendations. The system allows for "interactivity like you've never seen before," he said on stage at the conference.
Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.